TikTok certainly seems to have an affinity for deflection. The Chinese Communist Party-tied app claims the data experts criticizing its security risks are wrong about the platform.
MRC Free Speech America reported last week that Malcore, an automated tool that analyzes the data security scores of social media apps, found that TikTok has “the worst” score of apps tested for security risks.
Malcore reported that the only app to come close to TikTok in terms of security risks was a Russian social media app. Malcore said that TikTok’s score is “more than double the industry average.”
“Malcore scored TikTok 63.1,” the study found. “This was the highest (worst) score relative to all other applications we tested. The only score close was VK, the Russian app on 62.7. The industry standard was all other major social media applications scored 34 and below with the average score being 28.8 over 21 applications.”
The study drew significant attention across the globe, including from Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr. TikTok, however, continues to insist that the company is doing nothing wrong.
“[T]he Malcore team… published an industry analysis that is at best misleading and at worst a severely flawed and biased analysis,” a statement from the app’s website stated. “Their results contained a number of inaccuracies that should cast doubt on the validity of their findings.”
Despite years of suspicion that the app fails to protect user privacy adequately, TikTok now suddenly claims that its own researchers have analyzed the issue and Malcore is just plain wrong.
“At TikTok, the privacy and security of the people who use our platform are among our highest priorities,” the statement added. “We take our responsibility to safeguard people's privacy and security seriously and devote considerable resources to achieve this goal. We plan to continue to provide updates on our practices in our newsroom, help center and our privacy policies.”
Commissioner Carr has vigorously criticized TikTok’s ties to the Chinese Communist Party and refuses to let up on the company.
“TikTok is not what it appears to be on the surface. It's not just an app for sharing funny videos or memes. That's the sheep's clothing. At its core, TikTok functions as a sophisticated surveillance tool that harvests extensive amounts of personal and sensitive data," Carr wrote in a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai on June 24, 2022.
Axios reported that Carr doubled down on his statements, later adding: “‘I don’t believe there is a path forward for anything other than a ban [of TikTok],’ Carr said, citing recent revelations about how TikTok and ByteDance handle U.S. user data.”
Carr’s concerns are not unfounded.
In 2021, MRC Free Speech America reported TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, sold a stake in the company to WangTouZhongWen Technology, a Beijing-based company owned by three state entities in China.
Congress has taken action and Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) introduced legislation to ban the app from official federal devices.
The senator said that the app is “a Trojan horse for the Chinese Communist Party that has no place on government devices—or any American devices, for that matter.” He later added: “TikTok has repeatedly proven itself to be a malicious actor[,] but Joe Biden and Big Tech refuse to take the threat of Chinese espionage seriously. It’s time for Congress to act.”
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